Saturday, March 21, 2020

Santa Maria della Scala

where: Piazza della Scala, 23 Trastevere
open: 10:00-13:00 & 16:00-19:00

Santa Maria della Scala is a Baroque church in the Piazza della Scala in the Trastervere neighbourhood.
It was built for the Order of the Discalced Carmelites between 1593 and 1610 to house an icon of the Virgin Mary that was claimed to have healed a crippled child from the area.
In 1601 the fraternity commissioned Caravaggio to paint the Death of the Virgin for the church. The canvas was completed in 1605 but the monks refused to take possession of the painting as they thought it was not a respectful depiction of the Virgin Mary's death.
Caravaggio used many local people from the streets of Rome in his paintings and it is thought that he used the body of a dead prostitute found floating in the Tiber as his model for this canvas.
Caravaggio's Death of the Virgin is now in the Louvre Paris.
Baroque artist Carlo Saraceni, who worked mainly in Rome, was then contracted to paint a second version of the Death of the Virgin which is still in situ in the second chapel on the left.
Other paintings of interest in the church are the choir apse fresco, the Queen of Heaven, by Giuseppe Cesari (Cavaliere d'Arpino), the altarpiece by Dutch painter Gerrit Van Honthurst depicting John the Baptist –first chapel on the right, Our Lady with Saints Catherine of Siena and Hyacinth again on the right in the second chapel and the Holy Family (1710) by Giuseppe Ghezzi in the third chapel.
In the first chapel on the left are an altarpiece of The Virgin and a fresco of The Eternal Father by Cristoforo Roncalli.

Death of the Virgin
Carlo Saraceni

Our Lady with SS Hyacinth and Catherine of Siena
Antiveduto Grammatica

Holy Family
Giuseppe Ghezzi

John the Baptist
Gerrit Van Honthorst

Giuseppe Cesari

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Getting Around

I found walking Rome was the best way to see everything.

The metro, trams and buses are also an easy and cheap option.

Buses and the metro can get crowded. Tickets must be bought before boarding and validated.

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Buses 40 (express) and 64 start at Termini and end near Saint Peter's, traveling past places of interest, returning the same way.

Some stops along the 64 route are:


Piazza Venezia

Via Nazionale

Corso Vittorio Emanuele II

Bus 75 takes you past the Colosseum to Trastevere

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These are a few of my favourite books about Rome

The Cardinal's Hat by Mary Hollingsworth
This book tells the story of one of the sons of Lucrezia Borgia who became a cardinal during the 16th century.

The Tigress of Forli by Elizabeth Lev
I love this book telling the story of Caterina Sforza who was fighting against the Borgia pope to retain the rights of her land and her freedom.

The Popes by John Julius Norwich
A detailed but easy and enjoyable book to read about the history of the papacy and the popes.

The Pope's Daughter by Caroline P Murphy
This book describes in beautiful detail, the life and times of Pope Julius II daughter, Felice della Rovere.

The Families Who Made Rome by Anthony Majanlahti
I love this Book! It explains the families who made Rome what it is as we see it today and also looks at their triumphs, scandals and failures.

Rome by Robert Hughes
This book explains Rome from its beginning and expands on the Renaissance and Baroque until present times.

The Lost Painting by Jonathan Harr
Another of my favourite reads about a lost Caravaggio painting and the search for its provenance.

other sites I trust for information on Rome are:
Rome Art Lover
Churches of Rome wiki